Posted on October 16, 2016, by Travis Pulver
The West Virginia Mountaineers knew their defense was going to be facing a huge test Saturday when the team faced off against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock, Texas. They would have to keep the top scoring offense in college football from hitting its average of 55.2 points a game. Their offense was good, but it hadn’t scored more than 38 points in a game all season.
If they wanted to remain undefeated and ranked in the top 25, they would have to go above and beyond the call of duty against the Red Raiders—so they did.
West Virginia’s defense limited the nation’s best offense to just 379 yards and 17 points on the day (had been averaging 544 yards and 55.2 points a game). The offense did its part by generating over 650 yards of offense to lead the way to a 48-17 Mountaineers victory.
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“We made some plays, got a good lead,” Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said (ESPN). “We were able to control the ball and shorten the game. That’s, in a perfect world, what we wanted to happen, and that’s what happened.”
Texas Tech had been riding a NCAA record streak of nine home games with 50+ points, but couldn’t get much of anything going all day. The running game usually isn’t much help (105.8 yards a game; 121st in the nation), but it was even less against WVU (34 yards).
No running game meant the WVU defense could focus on slowing down Mahomes, a guy who entered the game averaging 454 yards and four touchdowns a game. With him at quarterback, the Red Raiders had been averaging 45 points a game—but managed to hold them to just 17, their lowest point total since the 2014 season (34-13 loss to Texas) and just the second time in 23 starts a Mahomes-led Texas Tech offense was held to less than 20 points.
After the game, Texas Tech head coach Kliff KIngbury didn’t hold back when talking about his team’s performance:
“It’s the worst I’ve seen since I’ve been associated with Texas Tech,” he said. “We seemed intimidated, and they took it.”
Texas Tech has been an offensive beast since Kingsbury arrived, but has struggled to be taken seriously as a contender in the conference because the defense has always been among the nation’s worst. They’ve made strides on defense in recent years, but still have a long way to go.
With the win, West Virginia is undefeated and in a great position in the Big 12 with a real shot at winning the conference title. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU all have two losses already. Texas is still terrible which leaves undefeated Baylor as their only serious competition—who they play at the end of the season.
Should the defense that showed up against the high-powered Texas Tech offense dominate Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU, they could very well enter the season finale with an undefeated record and a possible trip to the college football playoffs on the line. However, the Sooners will probably be the only ranked team out of the three so to have a shot at taking one of the four spots in the playoffs away from a frontrunner (Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Clemson, Washington, and Texas A&M) they will need some help.
They will also have to be undefeated.